Surgery is about using manual and instrumental techniques in the operating room to diagnose and treat medical disorders. It’s extremely hands on with long hours. You could be in the operating room, standing, sweating, your brain contiously engaged without room for a 3 second break, requiring the utmost in dexterity and precision with your hands for hours upon hours.
Surgeons love it.
Just how much do surgeons make?
The median salary for all surgeons is $304,150 with the majority making between $266,532 to $361,745. If you are just starting out of residency, you might see figures more in the $226,000s. But a few years of experience will quickly bring you to the median. Medscape reports the majority of their surgeons had an income between $200,000 to over $500,000!
To become a surgeon, you need to do 5 years of a Surgery Residency. There are currently 247 residency programs offering over 1,100 spots! With that many spots though, it’s still pretty competitive. Last year, only 50% of applicants matched.
If you want to subspecialize (and earn a higher income), there are many fellowships you can choose from:
- abdominal organ transplant surgery
- mechanical circulatory support and cardiac transplantation
- cardiovascular surgery
- colon & rectal surgery
- endocrine surgery
- general thoracic surgery
- minimally invasive surgical
- multidisciplinary breast surgery
- peripheral nerve surgery
- surgical critical care
- transplantation surgery
- urogynecology & pelvic reconstructive surgery
- vascular surgery
- pediatric surgery
Surgeons are masters at operating on your insides. Think about it, these doctors are cutting people open, moving things about, slicing and dicing, and then sealing them up thousands of times a year. It’s truly amazing.
But it’s also very time consuming and grueling. I’ve met surgeons who sometimes can’t make it home till late at night. It depends on the case or the backup of cases behind you. It’s not like you can say, “Sorry, my shift’s over, time to go!” when you’ve been walking the bowels in search for a perforation. So think about it, do an audition rotation, and if you love it, go for it.
Allied Physicians – Physician Salary Survey
Medscape Compensation Survey
Salary.com – Surgeon Salary
NRMP Match Statistics
I would love to be a surgeon…but I didnt get the score I wanted on Step 1 (I beat the average). I think thats what is deterring me from applying to surgery, which is what I really want. All I can do is try and kill my Step 2 and hopefully something works in my favor. I know there are cases where people still get in, so I’m not listening to what others say! Thanks for your post!
It doesn’t hurt to try (except for your pocketbook). I know of people who have gotten into surgery after several attempts at the Match. Be aggressive, persistent, and do surgical sub-I’s at places you have a chance at doing residency. Good luck!
A few thoughts from a “PGY18″ General Surgeon…Training is changing to combined programs where after PGY2 or 3 one moves right into a specialty like vascular or acute care or plastic for the remaining 2 or 3 yrs. Also, surgical careers are changing. One needs to decide on a hospital-based practice through employment model or private large group practice (get some formal business education to maximize this route!!). The solo or small group is essentially obsolete today and should not be anyone’s career goal in surgery! Salaries will always be reasonable as long as we surgeons protect the value of our skills and join together in large numbers to exert more leverage with ins. companies, hospitals, and gov’t agencies.